Since the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's testing of the Spider Activated Volcano Obstacle, or SAVO, mockups proved successful during Saber Junction 17 at Hohenfels, Germany, in early 2017, teams have been working diligently to move it to the assessment phase.

The focused assessment culminated with VIP demonstrations Dec. 14 at Fort Leonard Wood.

John Hegle, Fort Leonard Wood's Training and Doctrine Command Proponency Office chief, said with that successful proof of concept more than a year ago, the baseplate design and support items have matured and evolved.

Col. John Morrow, TRADOC capability manager -- Maneuver Support, said the method in which Soldiers prepare each base plate before placement and the process for establishing the initiation systems are also being refined.

The system utilizes existing VOLCANO Canisters, but is placed in a stationary manner instead of placing them on vehicles or aircraft like in the past. Because of this, the base plates must be placed a certain distance apart to ensure proper distribution, Morrow explained.

What was assessed?

Hegle said ease-of-use for the fighting force when it comes to installing and activating the "portable minefields," using several potential initiation methods, along with recovery operations and transportation of its components was evaluated.

Morrow said the assessment was very successful overall.

"The platoon conducting the assessment had to be switched out less than one week from the event, and the Soldiers had to be quickly trained on the SAVO System," he said. "They became very proficient after less than two days of training, which proves the system is easy to use and Soldiers can quickly become proficient in placing the system and operating it."

Hegle agreed.

"The Soldiers picked up the procedures quickly and provided excellent feedback that will be analyzed and used to inform SAVO decisions," he said.

Morrow said the system will continue to be tested, assessed and refined with more field trials and operational testing with Soldiers over the next two to three years before the system will be fully certified and operational.

"This may seem like a long time," he said. "But it is much quicker than a system of this type would be fielded historically. The certification, validation and safety requirements for this type of system are extremely rigid, rightfully so, and it takes many tests and validation exercises before it can be declared fully operational."

Hegle said the SAVO has been approved to be rapidly developed and fielded under the new Middle Tier Acquisition authority.

The MTA rapid acquisition approach focuses on rapid prototyping and fielding, delivering capabilities within two to five years by streamlining the testing and deployment of prototypes or the upgrading of existing systems with already approved technology.

This interim approach was granted by Congress in the Fiscal Year 16 National Defense Authorization Act.

Morrow and Hegle attribute the project's success to the teamwork of many organizations.

Details of the assessment will be provided in a report by the Maneuver Support Battle Lab to the U.S. Army Engineer School and the TRADOC Capability Manager-Maneuver Support.

Hegle said they are aiming to begin procurement and fielding around 2022.